USDA Offering Drought-Related Conservation Assistance in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Oregon

USDA announced that it is offering $41.8 million through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to help agricultural producers in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Oregon alleviate the immediate impacts of drought and other natural resource challenges on working lands. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will set aside $11.8 million directly for drought-related practices. Funding will be available through a new EQIP option, Conservation Incentive Contracts, and applications will be accepted through July 12, 2021. Through five- to ten-year contracts, producers manage, maintain, and address important natural resource concerns and build on existing conservation efforts. Conservation Incentive Contracts offer conservation activities that producers implement to address resource concerns. Practices include forest management plans, tree/shrub establishment, brush management, prescribed grazing, pasture and hay planting, wildlife habitat, livestock watering systems, and cover crops. Although the Conservation Incentive Contracts are only available in selected states in fiscal year 2021, NRCS announced that will roll out nationwide in fiscal year 2022, using this pilot to refine implementation of this new option.